Urumqi denies blocking residential building where 10 killed in fire, vows to investigate accident
Published: Nov 25, 2022 02:25 PM Updated: Nov 26, 2022 01:56 AM
Photo: Screenshot of video on Sina Weibo

Photo: Screenshot of thevideo on Sina Weibo

The local government of Urumqi, capital of Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, on Friday night denied claims that the doors were locked in a 21-floor building where a fire broke out on Thursday night, killing 10 residents and injuring nine. The local government said it has set up an investigation group and will severely punish whoever is responsible for the accident.

Officials from the city said that the fire broke out at around 8 pm on Thursday night, and was put out at around 11 pm. Ten people were killed and nine others were injured after a fire broke out in the 21-floor residential building in Urumqi. The nine injured have been hospitalized for treatment due to inhalation of toxic smoke and are not in danger of losing their lives.

The fire started on the 15th floor of the 21-floor building and spread to the 17th floor, with smoke spreading to the 21st floor. The cause of the fire, according to a local official, was a fire on a patch board in a bedroom, based on the initial investigation, said the media report.

Urumqi is among the cities that have undergone stringent epidemic control measures with key districts of the city put under static management since August, according to media reports.

After the accident, there were questions about whether rescue efforts had been delayed because some parts of the city are still under lockdown and residents could not run out of the building timely. Pictures began to circulate online showing that exit doors of the residential building had been wired shut, preventing residents from escaping.

The district head of Tianshan, where the building is located, said at the press conference that after rounds of checks, it has been confirmed that all the unit entrance doors of the building were not locked, and pictures appearing that they were locked with wires were photoshopped.

The official said that the community where the building is located had been designated as a low-risk area since November 12, and residents have been allowed to walk out on a staggering basis since November 20.

Apart from the direct cause of the accident, another official from the city's fire department also said the fireproof door of the floor where the fire broke out had been open, which propagated the spread of fire, and the road leading to the building was occupied by other vehicles, making it difficult for fire engines to get to the site quickly.

The official also said some residents were unable to protect themselves as they were not familiar with the safety exits.

The officials said at the Friday press conference that Urumqi has established an investigation team, and will severely punish whoever is responsible.

Global Times